June 12/12 17:48 pm - Tour de Beauce: Stage 1 report and photos
Posted by Editoress on 06/12/12
Francisco (Paco) Mancebo (Competitive Cyclist) started the 27th edition of the Tour de Beauce the way he ended the 26th - donning the yellow jersey of race leader, after winning the opening stage. Top Canadian was Ryan Roth (SpiderTech p/b C10) in second, with Christian Meier (Team Canada) finishing just off the podium in fourth, behind Matthias Friedemann (Champion System).
The 162 kilometre stage, that begins and ends in the small town of Lac Etchemin, often ends with a small breakaway group gaining time on the main field and top contenders but not this year, with memories of a large group taking 20 minutes on the field last year in everyone's minds. After a couple of early attempts, a group of three broke clear less than ten kilometres into the stage - David Williams ( Competitive Cyclist Racing Team), Flavio De Luna (Spidertech powered by C10) and Ken Hanson (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies).
"It's an interesting start to the race," agreed Competitive Cyclist team director Gord Fraser. "We're just happy we had a guy in the break. It's good to see a young guy take his job and do it to perfection, and take the pressure off the other guys on the team."
The peloton, seeing no danger in this small group, allowed the gap to grow quickly, reaching over nine minutes in less than 40 kilometres of racing. As an indication of how relaxed the bunch were; they covered only 36 kilometres in the first hour.
At this point, Team Type 1 (TT1) and Champion Systems took the lead in setting tempo, but other teams also contributed, with Team Canada putting Stuart Wight at the front and SpiderTech's Frank Parisien taking his turn in the chase.
The gap started to steadily decline as the race approached the first of two categorized climbs for the day, down to just over six minutes as the riders began a long descent towards the feedzone after the KoM. By the feedzone it was down to five minutes, but then stalled at just under four minutes with 50 kilometres remaining.
More teams came to the front to assist and it began to go down again, to less than 90 seconds as the leaders hit the second KoM of the day at 120 kilometres. Hanson took both KoMs, giving him the Polka Dot jersey.
The gap temporarily jumped to over two minutes on the climb as the peloton slowed, but then the attacks began, with Marc de Maar (UnitedHealthcare) jumping on one of the many long rollers for which Beauce is known. Chad Beyer ( Competitive Cyclist) immediately got on his wheel, and the duo quickly caught Hanson, who was sliding back to the peloton, his work done for the day.
This attack by two danger riders woke the bunch up, who began chasing harder, taking the gap under 40 seconds with 25 kilometres remaining. The gap yoyo'd at around a minute for a few kilometres before catching Williams and de Luna with 15 kilometres remaining.
Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies then upped the tempo, preparing the way for their climber Sebastien Salas - winner of the Climber's Jersey at the Tour of California - on the final climb of the day with five kilometres to go.
Mancebo, Salas and Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthCare) were the three to go clear on that climb, gaining 15 seconds by the top. The peloton were gradually reeling them in, but it looked like the trio would stay clear as they came into the final kilometre, with a tricky S-bend at 700 metres to go.
Salas was in third wheel, and says that he hit a hole, going down and hitting Sutherland's back wheel as he did, taking the UnitedHealthcare rider out of contention with mechanical problems, and leaving Mancebo alone to roll in a few metres in front of the remnants of the bunch, led by Roth. Mancebo picked up a 10 second time bonus with his win. Behind the leaders a second crash held up much of the field, with Team Canada's Nic Hamilton one of the riders to go down.
Mancebo in yellow
Mancebo commented "The plan at the start was to be careful with the breakaways. We were lucky that it was only three riders, and one of them was ours. David Williams did a good job for us and when the pack caught the breakaway the plan became to attack on the last climb because there was a little bit of a headwind, and it was the right moment in the race. I tried for the win and had some luck, with Salas crashing and something happening to Rory. I looked behind and I was solo, and could ride to the finish line."
Mancebo is also not too concerned about having to defend the jersey so early in the race: "The plan will be the same. Tomorrow will be a stage for the sprinters, so maybe work with a team like Team Type 1 or SpiderTech that has sprinters. I think nothing will happen tomorrow [for GC], it will be Mont Megantic and then the time trial."
Fraser agreed with this assessment: "It's always our plan to win when I'm the director. We won, I'm super happy and we'll take tomorrow as it comes. We have the team here that can do the job, but we'll really see after Megantic. Tomorrow is a relatively flat stage, and there are lots of teams here that have good sprinters so I assume that there will be some cooperation tomorrow."
Ryan Roth, the top Canadian, came close to catching Mancebo. "On the last climb Mancebo, Rory and Salas attacked. I was in the front of the peloton chasing and then coming into that final turn Salas crashed, and I just punched it with about 500 metres to go. I was closing on Mancebo the whole time, but I just didn't catch him."
"Second place is ideal for us, but I don't know if I'll be one of the strongest guys on Megantic. I'll do my best, but Hugo (Houle) and Frank (Parisien) are both still up there, so we have cards to play."
- After a number of riders were placed back in the front group from the crash, Roth is four seconds down on Mancebo and Friedemann six. Meier leads a group of 20 at ten seconds, with another group of seven at 34 seconds. Canada has a number of riders who made that front bunch besides Roth and Meier: Bruno Langlois (Garneau-Quebecor-Norton Rose), Rob Britton (H&R Block), Svein Tuft (Team Canada), Hugo Houle (SpiderTech), Michael Woods (Team Canada) and Nic Hamilton (Team Canada). Salas is 1:22 back after his crash.
- Tuft and Meier are back at Beauce after racing the Giro d'Italia, and commented on their return.
Tuft" "It's kind of nice actually, low stress. It's a race we've done so many years, it's quite enjoyable actually. For us to race together again is always good, I'm always happy when I can race with Christian."
"Beauce is really where it all started for us," agreed Christian Meier. "We missed a couple of years when we were with Garmin, but it's fantastic to be here. It's a great race and, like Svein said, it's low key for us, so we can try to find some legs again after the Giro. Hopefully we can use it as a bit of a prep for Nationals."
- Mancebo took the Points Jersey as well as Yellow, so Roth will wear White tomorrow.